How to choose between offline and online freelancing?

Namaste Friends and Freelancers!

Hope you are having a good time during these last few days of the year. It is nice cool and comfy weather here in Bangalore as well. The best part of the year. God, I so love winters!

Today, I came across a nice question when I met a friend who is trying to launch herself into freelancing. It happened so that we were in a discussion about freelancing – very preliminary things when I mentioned about the offline and online freelancing concepts that I wrote earlier as well. Click here to check The Concepts of Freelancing.

I am sure she understood the concept very clearly. Now, she wanted to know how to choose between offline and online freelancing. Well, it is not as easy as it looks like from the outside. Offline or physical freelancing and online or digital freelancing as I call them, have different positives and negatives and one should choose based on her abilities or skillsets, desires or aspirations and feasibility. Not everyone can get online, hit the apply button and start working! Similarly, it may not be feasible for everyone to walk up to the client in her office and talk to her directly for a job. One might seem very simple than the other to you, but many are enjoying a full-time employment doing the other one! Right?

To start with, I can tell you that choosing between offline and online freelancing is largely dependent on the three things we just saw:
  1. Your skillset
  2. Your aspiration of a workplace or environment
  3. Feasibility of working in that environment


The most important thing that decides whether you should work offline or online is your skillset. Your skillset will decide whether you CAN work offline or online. There are few skillsets that need to be showcased physically – remember the person who plucks the coconuts from your trees? In his domain, he has to work physically. He has to come to your house, climb up the tree and get those nuts down for you. His skillset is that – and it is hence, restricting him to working offline. He cannot offer such a skill to anyone online. Similarly, a plumber, a carpenter, an electrician or a gardener has to work only offline as their skillsets won’t allow them to offer those kinds of services online (Yes, they can teach their skill to others using online videos and live video sessions, but we are talking about direct service providers here). Correspondingly, a web researcher who provides web insights to his clients, has to work online as all the material he needs to search is only available online. He can go to his clients’ office only to maybe pick up his paycheck or have a cup of tea together. But the main crux of his work has to be done and delivered online.

Can you think of a few other service providers like this who have to work online because they are bound by the limitations of their skillset? Do write to me in your comments.

Hence, we can say that skillset is a major (probably number 1) attribute of a freelancer who wants to choose between offline and online freelancing.


This point is more like ‘aspirations of the workplace.’ Few people, right from their childhood develop some aspirations towards their place of work and the environment that they want to work in, when they grow up. While it is very easy for few (like me) to work alone, long hours, stuck in front of the computer at some lonely corner of the dark room, few want to go out and have an office building to work in, with colleagues indulged in gossips, with coffee vending machines, extended break times and fixed time of login and logout plus the travel to and from home (like my wife). Well, I apologize for stereotyping, but all I wanted to say is that aspirations often prevent us from choosing a certain format of work. The formats of offline and online (freelancing) work are very much different from each other. We choose the format that we like based on our personal aspirations and motivation. Online freelancing can also be done in a group, sitting in office, under a common supervision – but the moment this happens, it rather becomes a corporate scenario. Don’t you think so?


Now, the third attribute is feasibility. Even if you have the right skillset and the correct aspirations, it may not be always feasible to choose one of these two formats of work – offline and online. Let me give you an example.

Suppose you are an expert of Microsoft Excel and you work as a freelance consultant or analyst and help the local firms with their finances. You work offline and visit the clients’ offices to build and deliver your work. All of a sudden, if you need to help someone sitting in a distant country with a quick problem in one of his Excel Workbooks, can you work offline? NO! You probably cannot physically go to that person’s place and help him solve the minute problem that he has. It has to be done Online!

So, even if you have the right skillsets to work locally and you love going to the offices physically and work there, it may not be feasible to work offline every time. Hence, we need to do a mandatory feasibility check before we choose between offline and online freelancing projects. If we find that it is only feasible to work offline, we choose that. Simple!

Hence, if you are still contemplating whether to work locally and physically or to go online and work, you need to think about these three features. I should have titled this post as “Three Steps Check on How to Choose Between Offline and Online Freelancing!” But anyways, follow these three steps when you are in doubt and I am sure you will find an answer. I hope my friend who asked that question has got her reply as well, (after reading this post, at least?)

We will slowly move into the bigger but most common questions in freelancing, but I feel it is very important to start small and clear your smaller doubts that you have before you dig into those. Many would wonder, how to choose between offline and online freelancing at the initial stage or may be at a later stage of their freelancing career. I am sure every freelancer must have thought about this once in her life! I hope this post would be able to answer your doubts. If not, write to me. I will try to help as much as I can.

What are you going to do? Offline or Online Freelancing? 
Let me know in your comments!


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Thanks a lot, 
The Indian Freelancer 
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